Broken in... in more ways than one - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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Broken in... in more ways than one

So having had my new Versys for all of two weeks, one of which was waiting for Speedy's lowering kit, I figured it was time to get some riding done and get those break-in miles taken care of. I figured a nice weekend trip to Death Valley was in order.

The original route was to be as follows:


I figured I would take the back roads to Mojave National Preserve, make a lunch stop in Kelso, and then I'd shoot up to Death Valley to camp the night. The next day would be spent cruising around the DV sights before heading home. This is about the perfect time of year weather-wise for both parks.

Packed up and ready to go:


Starting Mileage:


The trip started just fine, but it was far windier than I expected. I missed the turn to head into Mojave, and instead wound up hopping on the I-15 to Baker. Given all the wind, I didn't really mind shaving off that part of the trip. I stopped at the "World Famous" Big Fat Greek in Baker, CA (a major disappointment, btw ), and then headed on up to DV.

I hopped off of Badwater road just past Shoshone and entered Death Valley



Badwater road is a great drive this time of year. Scenic, just cool enough to be pleasant, and almost completely empty.






Unfortunately about halfway throughout I hit the limit of my comfort on the stock saddle, and had to take a couple breaks to keep from hurting too bad. It gave me a chance to stop in Badwater Basin and check out the sights, as well as chatting a couple riders who were also taking a vacation in the valley.





Made it up to Furnace Creek in the mid-afternoon, and picked out a spot in the Texas Spring campground. At that point I was happy to be off the bike for a while. I'm hoping the seat gets better as it breaks in, but from other experiences on this board I have a feeling it's going to require some surgery.

Camp set up:


Honestly it's been far too long since I've been camping. Some things worked, like sitting out under a clear starry night downing a beer. Some things didn't, like sleeping on a mat after becoming far too acclimated to my bed at home. And then there was the wind trying to move the tent around under me, which forced me to get up to anchor the tent. All-in-all it wasn't a bad experienced, and it provided me with some notes for next time.

The next day, however, did not go quite so well....


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Last edited by Kaneto; 03-08-2011 at 08:03 PM.
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 09:16 PM
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I presume that at the height of summer furnace creek and death valley is just far to hot to ride.

What a great way to break your bike in
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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The next morning I packed up and set out. I intended to make a quick run through Artists Drive, after which I would head up to the Stovepipe Wells and Scotty's Castle.



So about a quarter of the way into Artists Drive, things get interesting. It's a one-way, one lane road through some of the mountains on the edge of the basin. Things get pretty tight, really fast. Unfortunately on one turn, they got a little too tight for me.

Now I'd like to say there was gravel on the road, or I was too tired, or whatever other excuse I could come up with... but in all honesty it was 100% target fixation. It was a steep uphill with a right-hander immediately after the hill crests. In no way was I going too fast to take this turn. I just fixated on the gravel on the outside, rather than looking through the turn and leaning it over.

Pretty much as soon as I hit the gravel I went down. I fell off to the right, and the bike fell on my right leg. I'm full ATTGAT, so no rash or cuts. My leg hurt like hell, though. I spent a couple minutes laying in the gravel cursing myself for wiping out, and then the next 10 minutes or so trying to figure out how to get the bike up. With my leg hurting like it was, there was no way I was going to be able to get the bike up myself. Luckily someone came along the drive not too long after and helped me get the bike upright. At that point I just had to work it out of the rut it had dug itself into, and then I gingerly set off through the rest of the drive.

At that point I figured it was time to call my trip done, so I filled up at the gas station in Furnace Creek ($5.18/gal for regular unleaded), and then it was off to the shortest route home.

Unfortunately I was really only able to put my right leg in one position to get it on the footpeg without hurting too much. This meant that I wasn't able to shift around in the saddle, which made the stock seat even more unbearable pretty quickly. I eventually had to stop off in Pahrump, NV, because I could not stand to be on the bike any longer. At that point the adrenaline had worn off and my leg was pretty swollen, so attempting to walk was excruciating. I basically hobbled into a Panda Express for lunch. I ate only half of it because I had no real appetite, but I must have sat there for over an hour. I really didn't want to get back on the bike.

Eventually I did get back on the bike, because I had to get home. The stoplights on the way between Pahrump and home were actually a blessing, as they allowed me to stand up with the good leg and relieve some of the pain in my rear. Rather than going home, I stopped at my Mom's house. Once there I hobbled inside, grabbed her spare set of crutches (don't ask), and waited for her to get home so I could grab a lift to the hospital.

The revised route:


(FYI, apparently mentioning that you were in a motorcycle accident is a good way to get to the front of the line in the ER waiting room. I got wheeled straight back to the trauma ward, though I swear there were others in the waiting room that looked worse off than I did).

A few hours and a few tests later, the prognosis was a fractured tibia, some pretty severe ligament strain (but no tears), and a lot of swelling. The gear really did its job, and the only real damage was the result of the bike falling on my leg.

As far as the bike goes, the right side fairings are pretty scraped up, and the rear brake pedal is all bent up. Still the bike rode perfectly straight and had no trouble getting me home. It really is a brilliant bike. Just too bad that its rider is worthless.



I probably wont fix the fairings right away. It'll be a nice little reminder that I need to practice more and get better. Hopefully I wont lose my mind being basically immobile for the next 4-6 weeks. I'll have to spend my time living vicariously through everyone else.


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Last edited by Kaneto; 03-08-2011 at 08:01 PM.
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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I presume that at the height of summer furnace creek and death valley is just far to hot to ride.

What a great way to break your bike in
Average high is pretty close to 120 degrees in the summer in Death Valley. A lot of the campgrounds and other services shut down for the summer because it's just too hot to stay there. Some parts of DV are above 5000' in elevation, so there is still some camping to be had in the park. You just have to ride through the furnace to get there.


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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 09:52 PM
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Can't wait for more pics. The hi-vis helmet sure looks awesome under the sun!

Life is short, ride long.


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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-07-2011, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaneto View Post
Average high is pretty close to 120 degrees in the summer in Death Valley. A lot of the campgrounds and other services shut down for the summer because it's just too hot to stay there. Some parts of DV are above 5000' in elevation, so there is still some camping to be had in the park. You just have to ride through the furnace to get there.
That about 50 celcius and man that is hot, read a book by a kiwi Gareth morgan who rode through states called backblocks america and he rode through DV when it was 50 c and said you have to put visor down, cover all vents, close jackets for extreme riding, surface temp of our skin is 37C so the hot air will heat you up. We not long ago had a 40 c day here or 104 F and just to hot.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Edited the post to include some of the pictures I took. Didn't really take any pictures during the ride home after the incident.


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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 08:36 PM
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Hope you get better. I just torqued my knee and may have torn a ligament...will find out after MRI in a couple of days. While I don't feel your pain directly, I've got some of my own! It's going to be awhile before I can walk, much less ride...sigh.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 08:43 PM
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That sucks, hope you heal quickly. Kudos for gutting it out on one leg.
As for riding Death Valley in summer, I took my little Bandit across in July twice. No problems. It was 140 degrees at the visitor center in 1996 when I cruised through, and the Bandit and I were just fine in our rented Ryder moving van. In 2008 I took the Bandit again on a much cooler day, only in the 120's. That time the Bandit and my wife's Vulcan rode perfectly fine in the back of the U-Haul moving van.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 08:45 PM
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might want to think about getting some engine guards.
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 08:59 PM
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Its was an adventure you won't soon forget. Heal soon and start planning another.

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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 11:07 PM Thread Starter
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Hope you get better. I just torqued my knee and may have torn a ligament...will find out after MRI in a couple of days. While I don't feel your pain directly, I've got some of my own! It's going to be awhile before I can walk, much less ride...sigh.
That's the worst part. Not being able to ride for at least a month may just make me stir crazy.

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might want to think about getting some engine guards.
I've been thinking about that more, for obvious reasons. There's very little damage that an engine guard would have prevented, but they would certainly be worth having.

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Its was an adventure you won't soon forget. Heal soon and start planning another.
I've already started planning the next trip. Though I get the occasional dirty look from the wife when I do. I'm hoping to be healed up before we're too deep into summer so I can hit Mojave NR and maybe Joshua Tree NP. Otherwise I'll probably be looking at a Utah trip. One thing's for sure... I have plenty of time to plan.


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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-08-2011, 11:58 PM
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Zion to Bryce would be a great run when that leg heals. Nice trip up I15 through that canyon before St George- fun. Heal up and don't be too hard on yourself.
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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-09-2011, 09:13 AM
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Man, I felt for you reading this.

I've done the post-crash-ride-home thing before. It's awful.

Glad to hear you're okay.
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-09-2011, 10:04 PM
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Dude, That's friggin awful. Thank god you hobbled away and the ride is still rideable. The Kawi green and day-glo helmet look great together!

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post #16 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 02:06 AM
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Wow. What a story. And a bummer. You are lucky, and smart to have good gear. If the bike is going down, get off it!!!

Will be over to DV in two weeks. Can't wait. Gonna camp at Panamint Springs with the advrider crowd. About 140 projected to show.

I'm seriously considering wearing my MX boots. They're just so damn bulky for road. Got a new pair of Sidi Sport Rains recently, but they're rain boots, definitely not 'off road'.

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post #17 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 08:51 AM
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glad to know you'll be OK.


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post #18 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 09:36 AM
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Bones heal and you learned a really valuable lesson. Read or re-read David Hough's "Proficient Motorcycling and More Proficient Motorcycling" while you heal up. Always good to refresh the mind with those principles. That's how I spent a lot of my healing up time and it was time well spent.

The radiator shroud is $50 plus S/H. A set of crash bars is about 3x that. The brake pedal ($40 or so) probably would have survived with crash bars and I'd be surprised if the $140 right fairing would have taken as bad a hit.

I only know all this because I had a similar off last Spring and got to replace the same parts. Luckily you didn't hit hard enough to bust the right peg stay but while you have it off to replace your brake pedal be sure and check it for cracks. It is VERY common to bust the right peg stay in a right side down. I have crash bars now.

Before you order the brake pedal pull the peg stay to make sure the two springs (one big, one little) survived without being tweaked. They don't cost much but the shipping and additional wait will not be a happy thing (BTDT too!).

Take care and you'll be back on the road in no time!

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post #19 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 10:31 AM
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Heel well soon and be back on the bike, but make sure your wife dont give the dirty look. Get a smile form her before you ride and its a blessing.

Family comes first, bike second.

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post #20 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-11-2011, 05:56 AM
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Heal fast my friend. Some how you will find that this experience help prevent future worst ones.

Still envy the feeling you must have standing in that desert staring at the vast empty space though.

Life is short, ride long.


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